This week could be important in the direction the rest of my season goes. A lot has happened in recent weeks but the dominant factor has been my health. A continuation of the general (RHR and training) elevated HR (+10bpm) I’d be experiencing from end May (post viral) and palpitations for the last 3-4 weeks, that included the run-in and recovery from Challenge Roth on 10 July (report below). I recently had an ECG which was “fine”. I’ve also been told that the blood test also looks fine, but no comments yet on a chest xray. I hope to get some feedback from the GP today or tomorrow. The trouble is part of me wants something to show up so it can be fixed, while another part of me (obviously) wants an all clear. Depending on the results and thoughts of the GP I’m prepared to pull out of IMUK. I’ve already started removing events from the calendar this season to free up some recovery time (whatever that may be). The most frustrating thing is that I’m actually in pretty good condition from a muscular-skeletal point of view. Not even a niggle. And despite the palpitations and elevated HR I’m feeling very strong throughout the training sessions.
On Wed 6 Jul we started a two day drive over to Nuremburg in Germany, stopping overnight just outside Cologne. I’d already sorted out my racing equipment so it was just a case of a little light work to test the bike and loosen-up the legs. A slight squeak in the disk wheel but apart from that everything was fine. On Fri we decided to visit a chemist to discuss the heart issue and they recommended some pills. I took them Fri night but then decided to wait until after the race. I was able to get some uninterrupted sleep but that’s only because they knocked me out!
CHALLENGE ROTH 2011
DNF 60M into Bike (time elapsed : 3:45)
We arrived at the lake/T1 in good time to avoid the worst of the race traffic. I managed to get all the preparations done and still had time to chat to a few friends and competitiors. I was starting in the first group with the Pros and Sub9s and was hoping to get a decent time off a steady draft, around 55mins. Yve had been watching a video on youtube providing tips (in German) on Challenge Roth and told me that the best place to start was on the right by the bank. I swam over and noticed a lot of others were doing the same thing, and standing on a ramp in the water. It looked congested so I decided to head over to the far left instead. The theory being that if I DID have problems I wouldn’t have far to go to get clear water. That was a mistake as you can see in the vid clip.
At the gun we first of all had to negotiate our way around the boat (which wouldn’t budge) and then other boats came in at each buoy to force us around the right side. This created a convergence and bottleneck of swimmers. I didn’t lose a lot of time at these buoys but I was then swimming at the same pace or slightly quicker than those around me, meaning I’d missed any drafting advantage throughout. I decided to swim out in the open for most of the second half of the swim. In the final 200m we filtered together and it became congested again. I was too tired to get into any battles so eased off. I ran out in just over 57mins and less than a minute quicker than 2009. T1 was slow as I dried feet and put socks on.
I can’t remember a lot from the first 20miles of the bike. I was holding a good 23-24mph when a group came by containing one of the Brits, Tim Bishop. I let them get away as I knew Greding was approaching involving a punishing climb. The group broke-up on the climb and I managed to pick a few of them off, but never saw TB after that. I believe he DNFd too. Somewhere around 35-45miles another group came by, this one containing Declan Doyle, who I knew was after his first Sub9. There was a good 6-7 in this group (mainly French and German), and were going at a nice pace. As the bike splits at 35km and 70km show I was within 1min of my 2009 time. Considering the bike was a little longer, and marginally more technical to avoid some road works, I was on a par with 2009. This was pleasing and a great confidence booster considering I had a good run planned. I was enjoying the rolling road and fast company…..then, a touch of bad luck that was probably the catalyst for my DNF.
On a small, sharp hill a few miles before the Solarer Berg (long hill that’s famous for crowd support), the chain came off as I shifted down. I tried to be quick fixing it and getting back on the bike but had lost 45secs to the group. I spent the following miles working really hard to catch them. From time-checking I managed to get the gap down to 23secs. As I approached the Solarer Berg and was engulfed in crowds of spectators another cyclist shot by. I worked hard up the hills in and out of the saddle, hoping that pacing to this guy would bring me back to the group. It didn’t. I worked so hard that I was shattered at the top of the hill. But, rather than have a quick breather and gradually get my pace back up again (as I would in previous races), I had nothing at all in the bank. I was wasted and after about 5+miles of the second loop where I was going backwards against the first lap cyclists, I decided something was definitely not right and I should find the first exit.
I couldn’t have stopped any quicker. I found a bend in the road that had several police and a van and thought this would do. They barely spoke a word of English but got the message and told me a pick-up van would take me away in 30mins. I was frustrated and gutted, but at the same time I knew I couldn’t push my body any more in that condition. From a muscular perspective I felt fine – no stiffness or soreness. I also felt fresh mentally. We had to hang around for several hours before they found my race bags, which wasn’t great as I just wanted to get away. Records were broken on the day from the winning male and female. I wondered what might have been if I had come out of T2 with <5hr50 on the clock. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
THE FOLLOWING WEEK
We drove from Nuremberg to Suhl (100M-N) on Mon 11 July and stayed at Yves Mum’s flat for a few days. This was a welcome break and a chance to fill myself up on some great German food – lots of yummy protein! Yve’s sister and brother-in-law (a chef) provided a barbecue at their house in the hills which was awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much meat in one go.
On Tue I headed out for a favorite run of mine – mountain run from Suhl to Oberhof and back. I had done this run in Jan 2010 (Biathlon mission) and knew it would be around 18miles. However I got a bit lost, despite the routes being easier to navigate now they weren’t covered in 1-3ft snow, and ended up with 20miles and a hillier route. I’d started out feeling fresh and keen, but finished feeling really stiff and sore. I felt like……I’d just completed an Ironman! On Wed I wanted to do another run in the local mountains but still felt sore, so contained it to 8miles. Thu we drove back home – 650miles in total and a new personal land speed record on the autobahn (120mph).
DEFRA SPORTS DAY (Fri 15 Jul)
I really enjoy competing in the civil service and departmental athletic meets. I’ve taken part in most of the Defra Sports Days since 1998. I was very sore in my quads on the day so kept massaging and doing light runs to loosen them up. The event takes place at TPL Teddington, next to Bushy Park and 1mile as the crow flies from where I live. The running ‘track’ is 200m on bumpy grass. The first event was the 800m. One runner went really quick from the gun, but faded in lap 3(4). I could ease back in the final lap and get the win. I then had a go at the 2000m Walk event. There would be no arse wobbling, I just wanted to see how fast I could walk. It seems around 11:00/M pace ‘flat out’.
90mins break and a chance to get a little rest and loosen up the legs. An old Defra friend, James Godber, is a great middle-distance runner and turned up for the 1500m. At the gun he went right to the front. It was a strong tempo that I could just about latch on to. With 2 laps (400m) to go I decided I’d better kick sooner rather than later as James is more likely to have a good finishing sprint. On the final lap I could feel James coming back at me and I just managed to dip for the line. Finishing time was 4:40 which I’m quite pleased with.
Finished the day with a couple of relays. I made a mess of my change over in the 4 x 100m mixed relay when I passed the baton to the wrong girl! The 4 x 100m relay men was a lot better. I managed to run a lot more controlled for my bit. Retained a couple of cups from last year. Was great hanging out with Defra friends. Pleasantly surprised at my running considering the week I’d had.
Will post another blog in a few days once I know what I’m doing re: Ironman UK.